I hated the first few months of being a parent.
I hated the lack of sleep; the loss of closeness I had with my wife as she devoted all her time to this plump pink thing; the screaming; the crying; the lack of synergy with the plump pink thing because I had no milk in my tiny man breasts; and the boring one-way conversations I would hold in the dead of night.
Then the little plump pink thing started talking; then crawling (albeit backwards); and then walking. This was getting interesting. So this is what parenting was all about. With the dark days behind me, I was heading beyond infinity with my mate Buzz.
Then he hit 13.
The needle scratched across the record.
I think he spoke to me more when he was a plump pink thing. The monosyllabic drone is slowly driving me insane; the incessant answer to everything makes me want to iron my forehead; the know-it-all attitude slowly adding plaque to my arteries.
I get angry that I’m not allowed in, and when he gives me five-minute talk time I am angry that I am in. I just don’t get it. It wasn’t like this when I was a kid. It was jumpers for goalposts, kissing girls behind bike sheds, and stealing Worcester Sauce crisps from the local off-license.
Take the other day for example. He was watching his phone. Fits of giggles made his shoulders shake.
“What are you watching?” I asked.
“You won’t get it,” he said stoically, before returning to his game and laughing.
“It’s the Yogscast,” he said, rather annoyed.
“What’s the Yogscast?” I asked.
“See, I told you.”
Yogscast is a quite bizarre enterprise created by two Brits: Lewis Brindley and Simon Lane. The pair would film themselves playing video games like MMO World of Warcraft and Minecraft, and then host the videos on YouTube.
After a discussion centered on forced circumcision, he eventually let me watch one of these videos with him. I didn’t get it. I didn’t get the humor, I didn’t get the game, I didn’t get it…full stop.
But someone does get it.
In the first four years of their videos being posted online they were racking up 1.8 billion views. When you factor in the money handed around via Google’s advertising share scheme, these two lads were earning a veritable fortune. And there was me telling my teenage son that he would end up working in Enterprise Car Sales if he continued playing video games.
There was a market for this stuff. The kids loved it. In 2014, Amazon paid $970 million to acquire Twitch Interactive. A live streaming video platform once called Justin.tv; created by Justin Kan and Emmett Shear. At the beginning of the year Twitch hit the 100 million monthly viewers mark; they have 1.5 million unique broadcasts per month, and 11 million videos are broadcast per month.
Now I am starting to get it.
I’m no expert on this, but prowling through my social media networks, I believe Jason Somerville is the first person from the poker community to latch onto the power of Twitch.
His jcarverpoker Twitch channel and Run it Up shows have generated a following of over 50,000 followers. I must confess that I don’t actually watch the shows, but a quick glance through the archives tells me all I need to know.
Somerville is filming himself playing online poker, whilst discussing all things life and poker. At the same time there is an interactive forum running alongside his live broadcast. It’s the ultimate in live interaction when it comes to poker. You get to watch one of the world’s best players whilst describing his thought process, you get to comment and interact with him, and laugh and joke at the same time.
It is genius.
If Somerville can grow his 50k disciples to a Yogscast-type following then it will be huge. Not only will Somerville be rich. The poker community will be receiving top quality content, and poker will be gaining huge exposure in the mainstream.
This can also be a great tool for online poker rooms to grab hold off. This isn’t a tool to showcase the most talented poker players. It’s a stage for the greatest poker personalities. Can you imagine how hilarious it would be to watch Dan Cates playing online poker? The quotes, the smashed mice, the wonderful stream of thought processes as he thinks aloud?
There is no end to this genius.
The fact that it’s totally live is one of the reasons I think this works. It’s raw. It’s unpolished. It’s just like every single one of us tuning in to have a piece. There is also a strategic part to this as well. With a game continually playing in the background there is a training element alongside entertainment. Online training sites have become so hackneyed. Interactive training has got to be the future.
So thank you Jason Somerville.
You are a pioneer. You are a star. Not only have you opened the door and given us a peek at the future of online poker entertainment, but it has the potential to take us into the mainstream. We all need that. Sooner rather than later.
Oh…I nearly forgot…you have also made me sound cool. My understanding of Twitch means my son will now look me in the eye when he says, “Dunno,” “Yeah,” “Maybe” and his favorite word, “No.”
I will be eternally grateful to you for that.